Corn Commentary

Where Does All of the Money Go?

Forming a clear mental picture of how life is changing for American farmers can be confusing.  For the 98.5 percent of the country totally removed from farm life, conflicting accounts of high food prices, a rising commodities market and a variety of other factors, such as export figures, fertilizer costs, farm land values and weather-related losses, swirl around at dizzying speed.  Generally only a passing interest for most, decipher the complexities of the agricultural economy falls to the wayside in favor of more immediately pressing concerns.

Now, with reports forecasting more acres planted with corn than have been in 75 years, consumers justifiably have questions.  Corn prices, if one looks at the commodity market, look high.  At the grocery store, food prices seem high.  Prices at the gas pump send the faint-of-hear t reeling, but they remember that corn-based ethanol filled up a portion of their tank.

Are corn farmers getting rich while the public continues to suffer?

In short- no.  In fact, reports out of South Dakota indicate that farm incomes there may have dropped by more than 12 percent in the past year alone.  A wet spring and dry fall, both enemies of farmers in that area, reared their ugly heads together. Faced with rising input costs and reduced yields, farmers plowed along to produce an abundant crop, but they received less compensation for their effort than in prior years.

Ethanol prices continue to fall too. With more acres going to corn in 2012, the ethanol market seems to anticipate corn production outpacing demand.  Thus anticipating lower input costs, ethanol actually hit an eight-week low to close out March.  Prices at the pump may be up, but the money isn’t flowing into farmers’ pockets.

While it is certain that the average farmer faces a much better situation today than he or she would have even ten years ago, it is important to remember that many of their peers were forced to leave the family farming tradition as low prices and high costs rendered their operations insolvent during the later part of the last century.

For the risk that they assume and back-breaking work that they do, farmers deserve to earn a fair wage.  Most willingly take on off-farm employment to support the tradition that they love.

Farm families have given of themselves to feed the country for generations.  Now, they need Americans to help secure their ability to do so securely for generations to come.  Take just a moment to write a letter to your representatives in Congress telling them that you support farmers and passage of a farm safety net program now by clicking here.